Although Martin Luther Didn’t Understand Viruses or Bacteria, He Showed Us How to Act Towards One Another in a Pandemic


Jupiter’s South Equatorial Region-NASA

T”he world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global, sustained and threatening public-health emergency. International Health Regulations Review Committee (2011)” –WHO

In our comment section, please feel free to name churches/parachurch organizations which will not participate in social distancing.


Does God specifically protect all Christians from the coronavirus if we go to church?

Recently, Anna Keith wrote IS SOCIAL DISTANCING NOW CONSIDERED A LACK OF FAITH? She posted screenshots of the following Tweets.

Anna pointed out an article about Patient 31 who infected over 100 people. From tis Reuters post:

It’s not clear where Patient 31 became infected with the virus, but in the days before her diagnosis, she travelled to crowded spots in Daegu, as well as in the capital Seoul. On February 6 she was in a minor traffic accident in Daegu, and checked herself into an Oriental medicine hospital. While at that hospital, she attended services at the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, on February 9 and again on February 16.

In between those visits, on February 15, doctors at the hospital said they first suggested she be tested for the coronavirus, as she had a high fever. Instead, the woman went to a buffet lunch with a friend at a hotel. In an interview with local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, the woman denied that doctors had advised her to be tested. As her symptoms worsened, however, doctors say they once again advised her to be tested. On February 17, she finally went to another hospital for the test. The next day, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed case. In only a matter of days, those numbers had soared as hundreds of people at the Shincheonji Church and surrounding areas tested positive.

Just as God causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust, it seems to me that He will not grant immunity to all of those who go to church in the middle of a pandemic.

Some churches decided not to cancel their church services

Although, many have caved into the government mandate at this time. it is worth looking at what some said just about a week ago.

Churches Grapple With Whether To Suspend Worship Services –NPR

Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at First Baptist in Dallas, Texas, and one of Trump’s most outspoken admirers, told his congregation he wanted to avoid “pandemic panic.”

“I know some people are saying, ‘The NBA is canceling games, why don’t you cancel church services?'” Jeffress said in an interview with the Dallas TV station KDFW. “Respectfully, what we do is more important than what the NBA is doing. That’s entertainment, and that’s optional. Worship is essential.”

Jeffress appeared to be saying that attending a church worship service was akin to basic life necessities such as food and water. His church is ridiculously huge with tons of money. They have the ability to stream their services online. Unless, and I’d like you opinion, churches lose money when people don’t attend. My family utilizes online giving but I have a feeling that many do not.

Does John Piper also believe that God will protect all Christians who take special risks during this time?

Desiring God posted How Do I Take Risks Without Being Unwise? on March 13, 2020. Although this post appeared not to mention the coronavirus, there is little doubt in my mind that there was a reason this was posted on that date (unless we are saying that Desiring God is uniquely out of touch with what is going on in the world.)

But I am going to argue that the overwhelming thrust of the New Testament is that the disciples of Jesus incline from the heart toward meeting needs at the risk of loss more regularly — at least we ought to — than we incline toward staying safe and comfortable by neglecting risky helpfulness.

Or to put it another way, I don’t want to prescribe precisely when love calls for self-protection and when love calls for self-risk, but the burden of the New Testament is to infuse the faith and love that leans toward self-risk rather than toward self-protection.

…Choosing temporal safety undermines God-centered trust in risk-taking when there is no serious admiration for Paul’s response to those who begged him not to risk his life in going up to Jerusalem in Acts 21:13.

… don’t miss the joy — the deep, amazing joy — that comes from overcoming fear and taking risks of love.

In regards to the Desiring God example, Jandy’s story of abuse also informs us that it is not wise to have people live in our homes without sufficient safety measures in place. Jandy was molested as a little girl due to individuals that her family took into their home to *help.*

Jandy’s parents were well meaning but naive. They were young when they married and were committed Christians. They believed in caring for those less fortunate than they were. This resulted in allowing men, one who had schizophrenia, to move in with their family. Their unsuspecting nature caused them to overlook the possible danger of such actions. It also caused them to trust neighbors and friends.This would be a major factor in Jandy’s relationship with David.

As a small child, Jandy was molested on a number of occasions by some of the men who were living in their home

The problem with using Spurgeon’s actions during a cholera outbreak and applying it to our situation.

Today, The Gospel Coalition posted 5 Lessons from Spurgeon’s Ministry in a Cholera Outbreak.The article  was specifically responding to the discussions churches are currently having about the role of the church in COVID-19. So the author used the example of Spurgeon’s actions during the cholera outbreak in London, 1854. I bet some of our astute commenters already know why this might be a poor example. But, before I explain, here are some things that were mentioned.

  • During the outbreak, however, Spurgeon recognized his responsibility to be present with the sick and dying.
  • The neighborhood where Spurgeon’s church met was not quarantined, so they were able to continue meeting throughout those months.
  • In those books, amid all the pastoral challenges of the outbreak, Spurgeon and his deacons continued to receive new members, pursue inactive members, observe the Lord’s Supper, and practice all the other normal activities of a church.
  • In these visits, Spurgeon prayed with the sick and grieving, and pointed them to the hope of the gospel.
  • Spurgeon did not limit himself merely to visiting members of his congregation, but was willing to visit “persons of all ranks and religions”

The author says that pastors are limited int their ability to be with members during these days, but he doesn’t mention exactly why. Is it merely because the government says so?

Given the concerns surrounding this virus, it’s important to carefully explain why Spurgeon could visit those who were sick. Also, why was it safe for people to allow Spurgeon to visit them? The answer is simple. Cholera, unlike coronavirus, is not spread by droplets. According to the CDC:

A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an infected person that contaminates water and/or food. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.

Did the author know this? I don’t know but, at the minimum, he should have mentioned that Spurgeon was involved in a situation far different than our outbreak.

Then, there is the Transformed Wife who believes that the virus is a blessing because women have to stay home.

Besides being woefully uninformed, she show total disregard for those who are suffering with disease or loss of jobs. She is the epitome of self-centeredness.

According to Dead State: Christian blogger: It’s a ‘good thing’ coronavirus is forcing women back in the home where they belong.

According to her, the trend of people self-quarantining is putting women back to their rightful place: the home.

“With the Corona virus pushing a lot of women back into their homes with their children (which is a good thing, in my opinion), here are some ideas to help you not be bored at home while being productive too!” she wrote, linking to an article she published to her blog.

…In an article published on March 10 titled Fearing the Coronavirus, Alexander wrote that if one believes in Jesus Christ, they should have nothing to fear when it comes to a global pandemic. She even offered her own brand of health advice.

“I am not a hand washer since I’m not afraid of germs. I have dry skin and I greatly dislike the feel of dry hands,” she wrote. “Yes, I wash my hands after using the restroom but I have never thought about washing my hands after going shopping or out and about. I don’t use hand sanitizer and won’t since I have read that soap and water are much more effective. I will now wash my hands after going outside of my home to shop or anything else I do away from home. I will try to not touch my face if I haven’t washed my hands. I don’t eat junk food and have a lot of elderberry syrup ready to go. I take vitamin C and D every day. I do what I can and leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.”

How Martin Luther taught me how to be less self-absorbed.

A few years ago, I started helping out in confirmation classes at my church. It is a two year course for 5th and 6th grade students. However, the one who has benefitted most from these arrangements is me. Let me give one example.

This year we focused on the 10 commandments. Not only do the students memorize them but they must explain what each of them means in day to day life. The leaders use Luther’s Small Catechism as part of the process.

The 5th Commandment says “You shall not murder” which they must memorize. Then, they must say the following: “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” We then discuss this in depth in our classes.

I have learned something from this process. It has caused me to go beyond just being sure I didn’t do something like *murder.* It makes me think how I can also care for my neighbor in a tangible way.

*Friend,* a TWW reader, posted this in TWW’s comments.

“From an email sent out by Reverend Donnie Wilkinson of Broadmoor UMC in Baton Rouge, LA (forwarded to me by my mother) The pastor wrote”One person of faith we can look to from history is the famous Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a pastor at a time when pandemics were far more common than they are today, and I believe his words from the past are wise counsel for our future.”

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death because of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” (The Annotated Luther, Volume 4: Pastoral Writings, page 404)”

Luther teaches us to look beyond ourselves in order to care about others. Even back in the days before they fully understood how diseases were transmitted, Luther understood that, just maybe, he could hurt others by his presence.

In our present day understanding of this virus, we know that we can infect people even if we don’t yet know we are sick. This virus is devastating for the elderly and all of those who have diseases which cause immunosuppression like cancer.

Steven Ward, the man who tweeted above, seemed more concerned about showing the world that he thought God was going to protect him from the virus, than he did about protecting those who could be harmed by this virus. Sadly, I have watched many, many deeply committed Christians die who have been exposed or contracted diseases of many kinds. Christians do not get a pass on suffering in this world. I believe that God gave us the knowledge to protect others from being infected by this disease. That is one way He does care for all of us. I wonder what He might say to to Steve who appears not to give a hoot about those around him thinking he is buying God’s approval by showing *no fear.*


On a more humorous note: I sure hope the toilet paper supply chain gets up and supplying before I have to resort to something like this.

Reusable Toilet Paper


Comments

Although Martin Luther Didn’t Understand Viruses or Bacteria, He Showed Us How to Act Towards One Another in a Pandemic — 95 Comments

  1. Regarding “The Transformed Wife,” the part of me that is not deeply frustrated is laughing maniacally.

    Yesterday, our county went on shelter-in-place-orders, effective immediately. So, yes, a lot of work-outside-the-home mothers are being sent home.

    You know who else is? Work-outside-the-home fathers.

    Suspecting that this was coming, I had recently commented to my husband that this is going to be a rude awakening for a lot of men. Specifically, those that routinely nag their stay-at-home-wives-with-young-children when the state of the house does not meet their expectations. Hopefully a little more empathy and understanding will be forthcoming.

    My grandfather often describes growing up on a family farm during the depression. One of the really interesting things to me is that his mom routinely helped out in the fields, and his dad routinely helped out around the house (getting the tubs and water set up for laundry day, for example). My grandfather has never said anything to suggest that this kind of arrangement was anything out of the ordinary in his very rural, very SBC community. Helps affirm, for me, at least, that gender roles are not as black-and-white as folks such as Mrs. Alexander would suggest.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. This is very interesting timing. Just a little while ago I finished with our little online meeting which has become my church of sorts. It had to be postponed from last night because of technical issues with Zoom. They are having so many new users that they are having problems. So five of us had a completely safe meeting to talk about this thing. The main leader is a woman pastor of a church of 10. Hers is smaller than some house churches and hers has kept meeting because of the small size.

    Our most enthusiastic member is a Lutheran and chose to read the exact same quote here that his pastor had read in a virtual service over last weekend. I have learned to listen to the Holy Spirit in my 49 years as a Christian. When I come across two people reading the exact same quote within hours of each other, I take notice. I do believe that this quote is what the Holy Spirit is saying to us all at this time.

    There is a balance between the extremes of cowardice on the one hand and utterly arrogant presumption on the other. Putting people at risk without inquiring of God directly first is sheer stupidity. But beyond that, I think that the real issue is Mammon and the egos of certain white-washed septic tanks. They cannot let the dollars go, so they go out and intimidate people to show up at their circus they call a church in spite of wisdom. And they are the center of the show, so they cannot dream of telling everyone to go home and not come and admire their greatness. I think there is going to be a bunch of sickness spread soon in these “churches” and people are going to die needlessly because of these two things. Call that the consequences of sin or God’s wrath if you will. These men are really some of the worst, and most evil, on the planet.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. My church, CrossWalk Community Church in Napa, CA cancelled Sunday services because we could not conform to state and county restrictions. But we wanted the 43, 12-step groups to continue their life saving work. So the sanctuary was rearranged to allow participants to spread out and still work on their recovery. The congregation meets online and via Facebook as best we can.
    https://www.facebook.com/1107425389366619/posts/2728258670616608/

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. Or to put it another way, I don’t want to prescribe precisely when love calls for self-protection and when love calls for self-risk, but the burden of the New Testament is to infuse the faith and love that leans toward self-risk rather than toward self-protection.

    Desiring God seems to be missing the point that social distancing is done to protect others, not just oneself. Every person who stays home protects all those they would come in contact with if they were to contract the disease. I really think the example of Spurgeon is disingenuous, too, since none of these guys actually spend time with the sick or dying, they just stand on stages and flap their lips while others do the work.

    On a positive note, and for some contrast, here is a great interview with Francis Collins of the NIH, including a very inspiring bio, from yesterday’s issue of The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/interview-francis-collins-nih/608221/

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. I found this link which is very good and informative as it compares this pandemic with the one from 100 years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJrm8V5KmPs

    I would also add that Luther’s comment about needing to be God-fearing is dead on at this time. Most people in our time have about zero of that at the moment, which is why something like this has to happen before man himself does things that would end up being worse than what this plague is going to do.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. From the article above:

    “Although this post appeared not to mention the coronavirus, there is little doubt in my mind that there was a reason this was posted on that date (unless we are saying that Desiring God is uniquely out of touch with what is going on in the world.)”

    John Piper is out of touch with the world?!? Say it ain’t so!
    Best laugh I’ve had in a while. I thank you!

    Side note: at work, everyone in our 17-story building has pretty much been sent away to work from home—except our company. However, many of us have already been practicing ‘social distancing’ for years and didn’t even realize it! I can spend the whole day there without hardly ever talking to another soul-except by e-mail!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. I think at some point, believers need to wisely differentiate between living by faith and being foolish! You know, there’s a reason we don’t handle snakes or drink poison at our little baptist church. Yes, I believe God protects us from many things, oftentimes completely without our knowledge, but I don’t think that He intends for us to intentionally and defiantly put ourselves into harm’s way just to see if He will protect us. I mean, didn’t Satan tempt Jesus with that?
    I think Luther struck that delicate balance quite well. There are things we can still do to minister to folks without having to have a weekly service! Heck, we might even figure out that this was the direction we were supposed to go after all!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. “Luther teaches us to look beyond ourselves in order to care about others. Even back in the days before they fully understood how diseases were transmitted, Luther understood that, just maybe, he could hurt others by his presence.” (Dee)

    Contrast that with the college student interviewed on the Today Show today who said he would still party (Spring break on a crowded FL beach) even if he had COVID-19. I suspect the average person in Luther’s 16th century had way more common sense than we do today.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. “We must not tempt the Lord [that is, test His patience, question His purpose or exploit His goodness], as some of them did — and they were killed by serpents … Therefore, let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:9-12)

    Presumption is born of pride.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. Max: Contrast that with the college student interviewed on the Today Show today who said he would still party (Spring break on a crowded FL beach) even if he had COVID-19.

    Please don’t generalize about college students. They are back in my neighborhood now. Their futures are upended.

    Most did not know much about the virus till they got home. It took them about a day to understand—less time than it took a lot of adults.

    The college students around here are being absolute angels. They are socializing on FaceTime and Xbox. They are helping their parents. They are visiting me but standing outside. If they are lucky enough to have jobs, they are bravely going to work.

    One young man told me how bad he feels about his campus shutting down. He can’t get a refund for cafeteria food and dorm fees, and keenly feels the financial burden on his parents, who now have to feed him at home. Jobs are scarce in his poor rural area.

    And finally: Why hasn’t Florida closed the beaches? The college kids are not in charge of that decision.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. Friend: Please don’t generalize about college students.

    I didn’t. Most in my area are brilliant young folks who understand and comply with the restrictions on Americans during this crisis. The young man in the interview is atypical, suffering from stupidity (he appeared to be drunk, as well) – he will probably not graduate from college.

    Friend: Why hasn’t Florida closed the beaches? The college kids are not in charge of that decision.

    Agreed. Sometimes grown-ups don’t act like grown-ups. They, of course, will close the beaches next week “after” Spring break … a decision that most likely had something to do with the beachfront economy there.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. I can’t believe they’re using a cholera outbreak as an example, although iirc they didn’t know it came through drinking water until John Snow was running around doing his investigation? So, if the point was that spurgeon *thought* it was dangerous I can kind of see the point? IDK.

    ““I am not a hand washer since I’m not afraid of germs. I have dry skin and I greatly dislike the feel of dry hands,” she wrote. ”

    Lori is SO DUMB.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. SiteSeer: Desiring God seems to be missing the point that social distancing is done to protect others, not just oneself.

    “Desiring God”?
    Isn’t that the Pious Piper?
    The guy that gushed about “Don’t Waste your Cancer” while immediately getting his prostate removed when he got diagnosed at Gleason 6?

    Bet HE’s taking all precautions to protect HIMSELF.
    Like Calvin when the plague hit Geneva, Too Important to the Reformation Cause to be risked.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. Last night I watched a brief video recorded by the pastor of a nondenominational church in Denver. He said that his church would hold a service this Sunday, but that they would require attendees to use hand sanitizer before entering the sanctuary and maintain a distance of at least two seats between one another. He also urged those in high-risk groups to stay home and watch the service online. I hope this arrangement works out for them.

    Going in the other direction, Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) urged congregations which haven’t done so already to suspend in-person worship services and transmit them online where possible. Here’s his announcement for those who are interested:

    http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/2001

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. Max: … “after” Spring break, of course.

    Looks like they are already starting to close beaches. It will take awhile. In other good news, Gov DeSantis said that hotel cancellations in Florida were off the charts.They have had 2.8% unemployment, and therefore have a bit more economic cushion than some other places.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. Brian:
    The blog is SHAMING churches who won’t close down their buildings to not be used for. church services? I know non Christians, liberal, who think the government is overreacting. In this particular case, shaming is going overboard.

    In a situation like this, you WILL get screamed at for Overreacting until it REALLY takes off, at which point you get screamed at for Not Doing Enough.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. Lea: ““I am not a hand washer since I’m not afraid of germs. I have dry skin and I greatly dislike the feel of dry hands,” she wrote. ”
    Lori is SO DUMB.

    Dumb as the woman who made (and uploaded) a video selfie of herself LICKING an airliner toilet seat in-flight for “The Coronavirus Challenge”. (I am NOT making that up.)
    Click, Share, Click, Share, Click, Share…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. Brian: The blog is SHAMING churches who won’t close down their buildings to not be used for. church services?

    Brian, I care about you as much as a stranger can, but… TWW is shaming?

    How about those hate preachers ranting that closing church during a pandemic is gay? How about the church whose outdoor sign says it’s not giving in to the “coronavirus hysteria”? How about the evangelist praying for liberal cities to suffer the most?

    Such folks are possibly more dangerous to your mortal life and mine than Jim Bakker’s colloidal silver. They are worse than the beer-swilling dudes on the beach at Clearwater.

    The decision to close is hard, I get it. Isolation stinks. But I prefer to continue the only life I know.

    My mortal family needs me.

    The ICU does not.

    I don’t want to burden the undertaker right now, either.

    In Italy, Iran, China, South Korea, Spain, and Ireland, ‘There are no funerals:’ Death in quarantine leaves nowhere to grieve: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-rites-insight/there-are-no-funerals-death-in-quarantine-leaves-nowhere-to-grieve-idUSKBN2161ZM

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  19. “Cancer, Heart Surgeries Delayed as Coronavirus Alters Care”… long quotation follows:

    Medical groups issued advice this week on how hospitals and doctors should adapt as beds and supplies are pinched and worries rise about exposing patients to possible infection. That includes canceling elective surgeries, including many for slow-growing or early-stage cancers, which many people would consider not elective at all.

    Luciano Orsini’s operation, set for April 1 at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, was pushed to April 29. He lost one kidney to cancer last year and was eager for this surgery to remove tumors on the sole kidney he has left.

    “I don’t want it to get any larger,” Orsini said of his cancer, which his doctor says it’s growing so slowly that he should be safe waiting. He understands but said: “The anxiety of just have this inside of you and not knowing and wanting to get it out” is hard.

    Choices like this are happening across the United States, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society.

    “We are going to face ethical dilemmas, not just in cancer care but in medical care in general,” he said. “We recognize that any delay is not good but we may not have a choice.”

    The cancer society on Tuesday urged people to forgo mammograms, colonoscopies and other routine cancer screenings until the outbreak eases.

    On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on hospitals to delay all elective procedures across the country to help ensure medical capacity is focused on stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma said her agency will soon issue guidance on elective procedures, including dental care.

    Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also addressed the issue, telling hospitals and dentists: “Things that don’t need to be done over the next two weeks, don’t get it done.”

    Medical care is being rescheduled for unplanned reasons, too: On Tuesday, Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston canceled all patient appointments after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-03-18/cancer-heart-surgeries-delayed-as-coronavirus-alters-care

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  20. Friend: … Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society.
    “We are going to face ethical dilemmas, not just in cancer care but in medical care in general,” he said. “We recognize that any delay is not good but we may not have a choice.”

    All sensationalism aside (and not suggesting you were being sensationalist), it’s only a matter of time before the unprecedented public health focus on COVID-19 begins to have serious side-effects. Meaning, specifically, that efforts to prevent untimely deaths due to coronavirus lead directly to untimely deaths from other causes.

    As Dr Lichtenfeld stated, there will be ethical dilemmas. There are, for instance, 400,000 of us here in the UK with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 is an odd condition. Without insulin, my chances of surviving more than a short time would be identically zero, but with insulin, I’m not even ill. 400,000 is fewer than the current generally-accepted estimate for the number of people who would die from coronavirus if we did nothing (around 500,000). Nor am I aware of any suggestion that the NHS, or anyone else, is going to stop supplying insulin. So, that’s a tenuous example at the moment.

    But the example given, of cancer screening and treatment, is far more immediate. Breast cancer screening, for instance, is thought to save around 1300 lives a year in the UK; there’s routine screening for other forms of cancer that undoubtedly adds to that figure. That’s still less than half a million, but there are other illnesses too; Type 2 diabetes, for instance, is its own epidemic here and accounts for around 4 million people. It, too, carries a significant threat of impairment and untimely death.

    Either way, things will be different.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  21. There’s a lot more I could say about this blog post, and maybe I will later, but for now, I wanted to talk about this part:

    “So the author used the example of Spurgeon’s actions during the cholera outbreak in London, 1854.”

    From what I recall of the U.S. Civil War (1860 – 1865) (and I’m too lazy to Google for this info, I’m going on vague recollections here), surgeons back then didn’t know all about bacteria and germs like we do today.

    In the American Civil War, Army Surgeons, in medical tents on the battlefront, would use the same knife or saw to cut off an injured solider’s appendage,
    then wipe off the blood and gunk on his muddy shoes,
    then turn around and use the SAME blade (without sanitizing it first) on the next patient.
    Yes, that really happened back then.

    It took awhile for doctors to figure out even the basics, like wash your hands before cutting open a patient, because they weren’t clued in about microscopic germs back in the day.

    Now that there have been leaps and bounds in medical knowledge,
    where do guys like John Piper, Gospel Together (or whatever they are called), get off trying to shame Christians into doing foolish and unnecessarily risky things?

    We know better now.

    The older I get, the more I wonder why any person out there pays any credence to one man’s opinion or interpretation of the Bible.
    You are just as wise (wiser) to go by what you know and believe, whether that includes anything from the Bible, or not.

    Believe in the Bible for spiritual matters if you like, but as I’ve come to realize in the last few years, the Bible is misused by many Christians; it’s not a medical textbook or anything else like that.

    A lot of mistakes are made by Christians treating the Bible as though it’s something it is not or using it for a purpose for which it was not intended.

    Do these Christians Dee is discussing in this post, are they the ones that appeal to that verse about “they shalt handle serpents and not be killed” and then go out and pick up honest to goodness rattlesnakes?

    Probably not.
    They’re probably Baptists who would laugh at the Christian denominations who truly believe in that snake handling stuff.

    I want John Piper and the others Dee is discussing to run out and try picking up some coral snakes and rattle snakes and get back to us.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  22. Steve:
    Does anyone else see a problem here?https://www.gracechurch.org/community/posts/1903

    I imagine that there are a not inconsequential number of at-elevated-risk people in that congregation.

    One hopes that there are other communications from the senior leadership exhorting the at-low-risk people to “love and good works” on behalf of the more at-risk groups.

    re: the thrust of the message, I suppose that the situation is not acute yet, inasmuch as it’s a request for contributions and not an order.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  23. Brian,

    What is the church? The place or the people? Why are on line services so bad? This virus is new to the human population. We won’t know if we’re overreacting until it’s done. Personally I think covid is here to stay. But in the meantime I’ll follow the advice of the overwhelming majority and accept the changes.
    Eventually this will pass. Mega churches will fill up again, eventually so will cruise ships, and toilet paper will come back. Covid will be something we live with. Care homes and the vulnerable and those that love & care for them may be leery of crowds for years to come but to most of us it’ll wax & wane like the flu.
    Let’s protect the vulnerable.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  24. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Correct.. Also, there has got to be people in his congregation, worse, in a percentage way, than his 501c… But the ministering to the flock is not a high priority to theses types…. instead of pitching his “video to kids”, what about making sure none of the kids are going Hungary?

    I am afraid we are going to the early 1930’s all over again, but with a twist… 2-4 % of us will not be around 1 year from now….

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  25. In the news tonight, a local person tested positive for COVID-19 … symptoms came on after attending a mega-church service and eating at a local restaurant. Do you reckon they felt “OK” before mingling with a mass of humanity at mega-church, before they had that chicken dinner in a crowded restaurant? Do your reckon the mega should have canceled their services? The local authorities have now closed all restaurants in that city (except drive-through only) and restricted gatherings to no more than 10 folks.

    Speaking of drive-through food, please know that the virus can survive 24 hours on cardboard … many fast-food sandwiches are packed in cardboard.

    A rule that has saved me several times in my life: “When in doubt, don’t.”

    We are stocked with food and hunkered down … we old people will only venture out for necessary supplies in the early morning (if we can find them). One exception: I may meet my grandsons at a remote location to fish.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  26. “With the Corona virus pushing a lot of women back into their homes with their children (which is a good thing, in my opinion), here are some ideas to help you not be bored at home while being productive too!
    ~~~~~Transformed Wife

    How about starting an idiotic blog where you rant and rave at other women on how they should live their lives, and brag about how holy you are?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  27. Lea,

    They’ve closed down most 12 step meetings in my hometown but one club won’t close. A family member who attends meetings there said,”the risk of personal destruction from drunkenness is far worse than covid. ” I tend to agree. May God shelter and deliver them from the virus. May they live long and prosper, sober and productive members of society

    Per request of Fisher. This is a comment by him. Typo made it F
    GBTC

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  28. Nathan Priddis:
    I was intrigued by the cholera/Spurgeon reference by Gospel Coalition. The organism does not behave in any way like COVID19. GC leaders may however, be so insulated from normal life, they don’t grasp details well.

    Perhaps it’s an extended metaphor, sort of like Dever’s use of 1 Cor 7:5. That’s not a defense, of course; perhaps more along the lines of noticing patterns.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  29. If GBTC accepts this one as suitable for this thread, I’ve encountered advice at my favorite secular weblog/news aggregator suggesting that one not discard weeds such as dandelions, purslane, bittercress and purple deadnettle, but rather eat them. These are coming up in quantity now at my location and it will be many weeks before any of my garden greens are ready for harvest.

    On a lighter note, a couple of years ago I encountered in a seed catalog an item new to me: “Gourmet Italian Dandelions,” with multiple named varieties.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  30. F: They’ve closed down most 12 step meetings in my hometown but one club won’t close. A family member who attends meetings there said,”the risk of personal destruction from drunkenness is far worse than covid. ” I tend to agree. May God shelter and deliver them from the virus. May they live long and prosper, sober and productive members of society

    I don’t know what safety precautions the group is following, or how large it is. Still, there are other ways to support sobriety.

    AA has just put out a press release about this. An excerpt:

    By attending digital meetings, groups can focus on A.A.’s primary purpose: to carry its message of recovery to the alcoholic who still suffers. Many groups have alerted local A.A. offices or hotlines if they are temporarily not meeting in their regular space. Some groups have shared that they are utilizing digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or conducting conference calls.

    A.A. groups are also creating contact lists, keeping in touch by phone, email or social media. Many local A.A. central/intergroup offices, and areas have added information to their websites about how to change a meeting format from “in-person” to a digital platform. A.A. in the digital age has certainly taken on a new meaning in these challenging times.

    https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_updatesoncoronavirus.pdf

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  31. Samuel Conner,

    The thought of eating weeds is a bit whimsical, with a dark undertone of “adaptation to scarcity”. On a serious note, US national leaders are speaking in terms of war-time style mobilization and already a 70-year old wartime emergency law, the National Production Act, has been invoked (though I think its provisions have not been aggressively employed for any purpose yet; the invocation was more of a “get ready” move).

    This crisis is unlikely to resolve quickly and even if it does (perhaps antiviral therapies will be found and made widely available at prices everyone can afford), it illustrates numerous vulnerabilities and fragilities in our current way of organizing the production of all kinds of goods. It might be prudent for individuals to “bottom up” adapt in ways that increase the resilience of local communities.

    In two prior national emergencies — the world wars — that required mobilization of the entire population and economy, the civilian population (in our crisis, one might substitute “medical” for “military” and “non-medical” for “civilian”) that was not directly occupied with war production helped in a variety of ways, including growing food on available land (and even in containers on balconies and rooftops in dense urban settings) — the famous “Victory Gardens”.

    In my local community, with a small dense urban core, a larger suburban “corona” and a lot of farmable land within the city limits, there is a considerable amount of land devoted to commercial production of vegetables, which could be grown in people’s yards to free up commercial land for other purposes. From the standpoint of “local community resilience,” the land might be better used to produce calories in the form of grain or potatoes. That may not happen quickly given that local growers will prefer to continue what they are already good at. Perhaps over time.

    This next thought may get me booted into moderation, but I suspect that we are facing other and even larger global problems in terms of ecological degradation and “environmental change” that will entail widespread hardships and require levels of mobilization greater than what will be necessary to resolve the current crisis. Perhaps or present crisis is, in the Divine purposes, a “wake-up” call and an opportunity to “get ready”.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  32. One of the local clubs in my area which sponsors 12-step meetings is currently closed but its website has a link to digital meetings. I hope and pray recovering alcoholics and addicts are able to maintain their sobriety during this time.

    FYI, I checked the website of the Denver church which was originally planning to be open this weekend. Their plans changed after Colorado included religious gatherings in its ban on meetings.

    As much as we need to take this virus seriously, I can’t help but wonder if things have gone a bit too far. I’m not trying to start a political discussion; I’m just noting how quickly and thoroughly nearly everything has been closed, restricted or modified. (Plus I can’t seem to find toilet paper, napkins or hand soap.) I don’t recall such restrictions being implemented during the swine flu outbreak a decade ago when plenty of folks died or became seriously ill.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  33. The Gospel Coalition’s managing editor Matt Smethurst forced to post lengthy clarification after being called out on his twisted counsel employing an old article by C.S. Lewis on the atomic bomb:

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/cs-lewis-coronavirus/

    Smethurst: “C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us. Just replace ‘atomic bomb’ with ‘coronavirus’.

    C.S. Lewis: “If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  34. singleman: I don’t recall such restrictions being implemented during the swine flu outbreak a decade ago when plenty of folks died or became seriously ill.

    The restrictions are being implemented to attempt to avoid outcomes like those in northern Italy, where the hospitals cannot provide care to all who could, in better conditions, be saved from their pneumonias. And it’s becoming apparent that this is not a problem just for the elderly and the already ill; there are plenty of hospitalizations in US of younger people who have low risk of death; the risk for this group will increase if the hospitals are so overburdened that it is not possible to obtain needed supportive care. I think it’s fair to say that until the catastrophe in Italy became news (it was presaged by what happened in Wuhan, but that seems to not have been seen as a precedent for what would happen in the West), few people in high office were publicly advocating aggressive mitigation-of-spread measures. In retrospect, that (along with the “preparation for large-scale testing fail) was deeply unfortunate.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  35. SamuelConner: I think it’s fair to say that until the catastrophe in Italy became news (it was presaged by what happened in Wuhan, but that seems to not have been seen as a precedent for what would happen in the West), few people in high office were publicly advocating aggressive mitigation-of-spread measures.

    Exactly. Italy scared people, and justifiably. We are trying not to overwhelm our healthcare facilities, because the outcomes are so much worse if we do that! We already messed up and let it spread, it would have been better to stop it from getting in the community. This is option 2.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  36. Morning drive-time radio said that auto companies are offering to convert to making ventilators and other medical equipment on a wartime emergency basis.

    And that at least one hospital is telling its staff to use a bandana or scarf when the masks run out. Thank you all those who have 20 boxes of surgical masks/industrial respirators in their garage to match their 40 cases of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  37. singleman: I don’t recall such restrictions being implemented during the swine flu outbreak a decade ago when plenty of folks died or became seriously ill.

    The other thing I have heard is that the COVID-19 virus is 4-6x as contagious as Influenza, which is making a big difference. This is through my medical practice which has > 350 mostly primary care docs, obviously in lots of different practice ‘sites’, so the leaders are hooked in and following all of the medical info. closely)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  38. readingalong,

    More contagious, and also with a higher death rate than flu, correct? Is that what your practice believes?

    Found this:

    The death rate from seasonal flu is typically around 0.1% in the U.S., according to The New York Times.

    Though the death rate for COVID-19 is unclear, most research suggests it is higher than that of the seasonal flu.

    In the study published Feb. 18 in the China CDC Weekly, researchers found a death rate from COVID-19 to be around 2.3% in mainland China. Another study of about 1,100 hospitalized patients in China, published Feb. 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the overall death rate was slightly lower, around 1.4%.

    Still, the death rate for COVID-19 appears to vary by location and an individual’s age, among other factors.

    https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  39. Headless Unicorn Guy: There are also said to be emergency kits allowing one ventilator to serve several patients, but I only heard of that once, no details.

    It’s apparently a thing that was tested out in 2006. Here’s the report.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16885402/

    And here’s an article I read yesterday, describing it as a risky hack.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdm53/this-risky-hack-could-double-access-to-ventilators-as-coronavirus-peaks

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  40. Muff Potter: There’s a galling irony of why our health-care professionals can’t get the most basic of medical supplies; you know, respirators, gloves, gowns, and all that good stuff.
    Most of it is made in China.

    While American consumers were buying a plethora of goods at cheap prices for decades, I think they knew this day would come. We used to drive by a once-bustling shoe factory near us … the weeds have now taken over … the shoes are made in China now. In my living room is a power recliner whose motor went out a couple of weeks ago – we were just informed that parts are no longer available for it … they are/were made in China. There’s just something about all this that has bothered me for years … last time I looked, China is a Communist country … beyond the American dream to have lots of cheap goods, I never understood why the U.S. sold our soul to a potential enemy.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  41. When the swine flu epidemic was raging, someone online said they had a good idea. They said hospitals should find their old, but still working, ventilators, ippb machines, and other similar breathing machines and put them to use if newer ventilators are in short supply. I’m wondering if there’s people or medical facilities out there that might have old medical equipment that still works who would donate it to a hospital that’s struggling with an outbreak such as this.

    Anyway, my mom almost died of swine flu, and it seemed like people weren’t as serious about that like they are about corona. A friend that had visited her complained that he wasn’t even required to gown up and put on a mask before visiting her in the ICU at the one hospital. I was relieved when her doctors transferred her to an ICU in a better hospital with strict isolation procedures.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  42. Nancy2(aka Kevlar):
    “With the Corona virus pushing a lot of women back into their homes with their children (which is a good thing, in my opinion), here are some ideas to help you not be bored at home while being productive too!
    ~~~~~Transformed Wife

    That was “Transformed Wife”? I think I remember her under scrutiny over at SSB.

    My response has always been:
    “SERENA JOY JUST CAN’T STOP LECTURING THE HANDMAIDS, CAN SHE?”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  43. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    This is where a big part of the challenge lies, of course. Because the severest cases of the disease involve pneumonia, they need treatment using specialist equipment rather than specialised medication. This makes them difficult to treat without hospitalisation. On the other hand, a majority of those cases do respond to hospital treatment – it’s not just palliative care.

    So, at a certain density of infection, the death-rate spikes significantly. This means there’s a great motivation to keep infection rates below hospital capacity as far as possible. Which in turn means quarantine and lockdowns even though a large overall majority of people with covid-19 will recover.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  44. Amber: my mom almost died of swine flu, and it seemed like people weren’t as serious about that like they are about corona

    It’s been estimated that the 2009-2010 Swine Flu pandemic infected nearly 1 billion people worldwide, killing well over a quarter of a million. The world should have practiced social distancing then and prepared more diligently for the pandemic we are in now.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  45. getting that “sinking sand” feeling:

    https://www.journal-news.com/news/area-megachurch-holds-sunday-services-despite-coronavirus-concerns/dXNfq0DeVaULjgNkpFCpjP/

    Warren County, Ohio, at this writing has 3 confirmed cases.

    https://coronavirus.1point3acres.com/en

    If these were symptomatic cases tested on account of the symptoms (rather than contact traces for transmission chain discovery), there could easily be numerous other cases in that county.

    I’ve noticed that the OT call to “wisdom” tends to get trumped by the way the NT call to “faith” is interpreted. I think it would be better to hold those two as close together as possible.

    Maybe we should be embroidering Pv 22:3 on our shirt sleeves.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  46. Nick Bulbeck: So, at a certain density of infection, the death-rate spikes significantly.

    Which is what happened in Italy.

    And it’s NOT because “Italians smoke” (waving non-smoking as a magic shield). It’s because Italian culture is a lot more social, with a lot more gathering and physical contact. Especially in extended families.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  47. “Although Martin Luther Didn’t Understand Viruses or Bacteria, He Showed Us How to Act Towards One Another in a Pandemic”

    Heck, he showed us how to act during the regular flu season! Influenza kills 20,000 Americans each year. How many thousands could have been saved if we practiced social distancing and better hygiene in public places during peak months of flu activity. That is good which can come from the bad if we learn this lesson.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *